The most famous of all tombs in Paris is located under the dome of Les Invalides (above), for it is here that Napoléon Bonaparte was laid to rest.
It was here too that the French Revolution really started. The mausoleum adjoins the École Militaire (Military School) which housed an armory. The Paris mob stormed the armory to obtain weapons then marched across town to liberate the prisoners in the Bastille.
The most famous monument in Paris actually created by Napoléon Bonaparte was the Arc de Triomphe which stands proudly at the top of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, itself one of the most famous streets in the world.
Another landmark which is visible from all over the city because of its position on the summit of the Butte de Montmartre is the basilica of Sacré-Coeur.
Voltaire described Paris as a great grey puddle and seen from the steps of Sacré-Coeur, you get an idea of what he meant. City ordinances prohibit the construction of tall buildings in the historic center and the few towers that have slipped through the net, such as the Tour Maine in Montparnasse, the residential towers of Italie and the high-rise office blocks of La Défense have created much controversy. For the most part, however, only the great churches such as St Eustache and Notre-Dame de Paris, the Panthéon and the Eiffel Tower break the skyline of central Paris…and of course, Sacré Coeur, which dominates the city from the top of the Butte de Montmartre. In the 19th Century, to accommodate the increasing traffic, Baron Haussman drove wide boulevards through the medieval city, opening it up to light and space. Although vestiges of the ancient maze-like quarters still remain, as we shall soon see, Paris is a very different city now from that which Voltaire described.
One of the great churches of Paris is St. Eustache. It stands adjacent to the former site of the Paris markets (Les Halles).
The famous Baltard pavillions have been removed. Some were relocated to Bercy for historical preservation but the majority were demolished when the markets were relocated to Rungis in the south of the city. In the early part of the 20th Century, Les Halles was a favourite haunt of late-night party-goers who’d finish their partying in the cafés frequented by the market workers. Today, the site of Les Halles is occupied by a shopping complex called Forum des Halles.
One of the most picturesque views in Paris: looking across the Seine from the pont de l’Archevêque (the Archbishop’s Bridge) towards Notre-Dame de Paris.
This great cathedral, built in the 13th century owes much of its fame to the writer, Victor Hugo, who immortalized it in his novel “Notre Dame de Paris”, better known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame.You can still climb to the top of one of the two cathedral towers and not only see the great bell which Quasimodo reputedly rang but also a wonderful panorama of the city, from its very center – the “zero point” of Paris.
If Quasimodo, on a break from bell ringing, had looked towards the rear of Notre-Dame he would have seen the now fashionable Ile St Louis (to the left of the spire) and beyond it the unfashionable remainder of eastern Paris.
North of the Ile St Louis, across the northern branch of the river, sits the low-lying area known as the Marais (marsh).
Quasimodo’s author, Victor Hugo, lived on the Place des Vosges in the heart of the Marais.
The Pont Neuf (New Bridge) is in fact the oldest bridge in Paris. It is split by the point of the Ile de la Cité, from which the settlement of Lutèce grew into present day Paris.
Apart from Notre Dame, the Ile de la Cité is also home to many other historically significant buildings including the Concièrgerie, in which none less than Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and Danton were imprisoned during the Revolution. Nearby, is the exquisite Sainte Chapelle with its famous stained glass windows, now part of the Palais de Justice (the main law courts of Paris).
Adjacent to the law courts on the southern side of the island (the right, as you look at the photograph above) is a building, known colloquially as the Quai des Orfėvres, which is immediately familiar to devotees of romans policiers, especially those centered around the exploits of one Inspector Maigret, for the “Quai des Orfėvres” is home to the Préfecture de Police.
A similar shot to the preceding one but under very different weather conditions. Here you can just see the twin towers of Notre Dame at the centre of the skyline.
The picture above shows the sombre mass of Notre-Dame against the darkening sky with the southern facade of the cathedral illuminated by the lights of a Bateau Mouche. These tourist boats, also seen in the earlier shot of the Pont Neuf, ply the river day and night showing visitors the key monuments of the Right and Left Banks.